Are Stainless Steel Dog Bowls Safe and Better?


In our house, Taz, the Chocolate Lab, and Yuki, the Husky mix have been using stainless steel bowls for years for both food and water. Then Happy, the Beagle, joined our household and he came with a ceramic bowl. After doing research for this post, I immediately switched his bowl for a stainless steel one, and I share below why.

Stainless steel dog bowls are safe and are what most dog owners prefer. Plastic bowls are bad for the dogs and ceramic bowls can chip and crack, letting bacteria in. Keep reading to find out why stainless steel bowls are the best.

Are ceramic or stainless steel dog bowls better

Between the two, the difference comes down to the material it’s made of. Stainless steel bowls are much better for a few reasons.

Stainless steel


  • non-porous
  • heat-resistant
  • super durable
  • rust resistant
  • can stand up to your chewing dog
  • can be lightweight or heavyweight
  • easy to clean using your regular dishwashing soap
  • will not cause allergies

Cons (and how to fix them)

  • noisy when sliding around on the floor (use a mat under it or get a bowl with a rubber base)
  • noisy when dog tags bang against the bowl (get rid of tags and buy a personalized dog collar)
  • limited ‘look’ (who cares? the dogs really don’t!)
  • heats up water faster when outside in summer (change the water often)



  • cute designs
  • harder to move around
  • easy to clean


  • will chip or crack and will need to be replaced
  • needs to be cleaned very carefully to prevent bacteria build up
  • should be cleaned by hand
  • dog could pick it up and let it drop, shattering it all over

Are plastic bowls bad for dogs

Yes most plastic bowls can be bad for dogs. Here’s why:

  • easy to chew
  • not very durable
  • easy to scratch and therefore accumulate food particles causing bacteria
  • if scratched, should be thrown away
  • not easy to clean
  • some dogs can have allergies to plastic
  • not all brands are free of chemicals, such as BPA

Are stainless steel dog bowls radioactive

In 2013, Petco recalled a number of pet food bowls because one of their manufacturers overseas used stainless steel containing small quantities of radioactive cobalt-60. I haven’t found anything mentioned since then.

Might be a good idea to look for bowls that are NSF certified….

NSF certified stainless steel pet bowl

What does NSF mean? Originally called National Sanitation Foundation, their name was changed in 1990 to NSF International. As stated on their website: “The NSF mark assures consumers, retailers and regulators that certified products have been rigorously tested to comply with all standard requirements.

It means the NSF certified stainless steel bowl you buy is safe to use for your dog.

Selecting the best stainless steel dog bowls

I never had that dilemma, to find the best dog bowls. I’ve alway used an assortment of stainless steel bowls I’ve accumulated over the years.

There is a wide variety and many suppliers of dog bowls, so how do you choose what’s best for you and your dog.? Dog bowl shopping could be overwhelming. Here’s a few tips to help you along.

How do I know what size bowl to get my dog

Yes size matters 🙂

The bowl should be large enough for your dog to easily open and close its mouth to grab the food. 

For a puppy, small dogs and breeds with a stout nose, consider a broad and shallow dish.

Choose a deep bowl for large dogs or for dogs with long features, such as long ears.

Are stainless steel dog bowls with stand better

Long time ago, I heard that an elevated dog’s bowl was better because it helps with a better posture and with swallowing.

We immediately raised the bowls with DIY solutions. To this day, we are still using them for the two big dogs.

Are raised dog bowls dangerous? Years ago, it was said that raised dog bowls would prevent ‘bloat’, which is life-threatening. Now there seems to be some controversy, that on the contrary, elevated bowls can cause bloat. The best person to ask is your vet to find out for yourself and make your own decision.

When our older dog started having problems with his throat, like he has the dog version of fur balls. He would cough and spit like an old man, which he is in dog years. He also would go drink water and turn around and throw it all up. Yes, lots of fun.

Our vet told us to elevate the water bowl as well to make it easier for him. It hasn’t completely stopped it but we noticed it’s happening less.

Non slip stainless steel dog bowls

These non slip bowls have either a rubber or silicone ring under preventing them from moving around while your dog is eating.

It’s not recommended to put them in the dishwasher as the ring can eventually stretch and come off. In this case, your dog might find it fun to play with, chew it and ingest it.

Can a dog be allergic to stainless steel bowl

From my research, it looks like yes if a dog is allergic to nickel, it could develop what is called contact allergies and you’ll find outbreaks at the site of contact. Nickel is found in high quality grade stainless steel.

How to care for your stainless steel dog bowl

Even if stainless steel is very durable, non-porous and rust resistant, it’s doesn’t mean it’s perfect. It’s really important to care for your dog’s bowls the same way you do your own dishes.

Are stainless steel dog bowls dishwasher safe

Yes they are, except those with a rubber base.

But I read an article saying “it is best to avoid washing dog bowls with human dishes in the dishwasher as it is a matter of health and safety”. 

And then other articles on how to clean dog bowls not mentioning that at all. So best to use your own judgment. Me, I rather hand wash the bowls and sanitize them once a week.

How often should you wash your dogs bowls

The consensus, from experts and vets, says that food and water bowls should be washed every day! If you use dry food, at the end of the day is fine. If you use raw or wet food, then it should be washed after every meal.

But reading more about Biofilm (see section below on slime) which has good and bad bacteria, some say to clean once a week instead of every day, to let the good bacteria do its job on the dog’s gut health.

I don’t know about you, but I feel I can go halfway…and decided to have a new routine of washing the bowls every 3 days.

How do you clean stainless steel dog bowls

The best and safest way to clean your bowls is to use a mild dishwashing detergent and a soft sponge. No abrasive sponge though as we’re trying to keep the bowls scratch free.

How to sanitize a stainless steel bowl

The bowls need to be sanitized weekly. There are 2 methods to do this:

Using bleach. Add 1/2 cup of regular bleach to a gallon of water. Let the dog bowl sit in that water for 10 minutes. Rinse throughly under tap water. Let it air dry.

Since I’m not keen on using bleach, I found another way.

Using salt and baking soda. Combine small equal parts of baking soda, warm water and salt. Using a soft sponge, scrub the inside of the bowl in a circular motion. Rinse well making sure no residue is left.

Can a dog get sick from dirty bowls

Yes! absolutely. Whether it’s the food or water bowl, if it’s dirty, there is risk of infection from things like yeast, mold, Salmonella, and E. coli. Pretty gross right?

That’s why it’s so important to clean the bowls every day (or every 3 days) and sanitize them once a week.

What causes slime on dog water dishes

Have you noticed slime around the inside of your dog’s bowl? Well, there’s a name for it: Biofilm.

It’s a thin film which forms when bacteria adheres to your dog’s dishes. Biofilm contains both good and bad bacteria. The bad one will contaminate the water with organisms such as Listeria, E. coli, and legionella.

Beside washing the water bowl at the end of the day or every 2 or 3 days, it’s a good idea to wipe it with paper towel before refilling it.

What about the stainless steel thickness/quality

There are many types of stainless steel. The different grades determine the strength, durability and ability to resist corrosion.

High-quality stainless steel bowls won’t rust as quickly as low-quality stainless steel ones will. Thinner stainless steel appeared to dent and wear more than the thicker one.

In conclusion, stainless steel dog bowls are safe and better

That’s why all dog bowls in my house, whether for food or water are stainless steel.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money for your stainless steel bowls. I have a small assortment of small, medium and large bowls that I use for the dogs’ food and water.

are stainless steel dog bowls safe

I bought some from garage sales. Others, I was using for cooking in the past but overtime I wanted new bigger mixing bowls for that purpose. They are all human safe and the thicker kind of stainless steel.

Some have a round bottom inside, that we use as food bowls, so it’s easy for dogs to grab the kibble. The water bowls are deep with a flat bottom.

Happy Dog Bowl Shopping!